Gartner predicted that 2020 would be the year of the Citizen Developer, and indeed the strategic technology trend of Citizen Development continues to gain traction in the world of automation—enjoying active support from automation vendors, service providers, and organizations pursuing automation.
However, several questions remain unanswered: Are Citizen Developers the panacea for organizations’ automation challenges? Can Citizen Development be the sole strategy for achieving an organization’s automation goals? And what role should it play in an organization’s journey toward digital transformation?
While automation Citizen Development can support building an organization’s digital DNA at the ground level by weaving automation into the fabric of business processes, it can also help knock down the misconception of automation as a technology to replace humans, by instilling a “humans with machines” outlook in the workforce. Giving the gift of automation to every employee could rapidly accelerate an organization’s digital transformation at the core.
Identifying and understanding all the available automation opportunities within your organization—and setting the right priorities—can require a set of Enterprise Automation Delivery Capabilities (EADC).
Seeing the big picture: Enterprise Automatic Delivery Capabilities (EADC)
A set of EADCs can help your organization harness the full power of automation—defining the scope and ambitions for your automation program. There are two flavors of automation to be considered when defining the scope of an automation program: Industrialize (at functional and cross-functional levels); and Democratize (at the individual level).
Industrialized opportunities can further be split into two groups:
- Cross-functional automations that span multiple functions (or an entire end-to-end customer or transaction journey) to unlock tremendous value for an organization; and
- Functional automations that help entire business units/ functions avoid repetitive transactional processes.
For Democratize opportunities, a Citizen Developer model enables application of narrowly scoped, attended automations to selected repetitive steps in day-to-day activities for business users.
What makes Citizen Development unique?
Citizen Developer model is a construct under which organizations empower and equip business users to leverage automation for individual efficiency gains.
Although the value of individual task-based automations tends to be lower than that of the other two levels, the overall value of Citizen Development is high due to the large volume of automations created, although its success hinges on efficient development and rapid scaling while maintaining a controlled and sustainable environment. The true value of Democratize opportunities, however, is not found in the automation ROI, but rather in the accelerated adoption of automation tools throughout the enterprise.
A Citizen Developer model helps regular business users become more comfortable with the concept of automation by making it tangible and accessible to everyone. Automation will likely also be top of mind for employees of an enterprise launching and operating a Citizen Developer model, thus creating momentum to fuel additional high-value transformation.
What value does a Citizen Developer add?
Citizen Development helps relieve employees of repetitive tasks, boosting morale and enabling them to spend more time on higher value activities. A Citizen Developer model can be an important part of an organization’s automation strategy to accelerate adoption and enable digital transformation, but it should not be the only strategy.
Citizen Development helps organizations scale up their automation programs, expanding the capacity for automation development beyond the COE—reducing the development team’s backlog while improving the velocity of automation deployment from ideation to operation.
With a Citizen Developer model, an organization can reach deeper into its automation pipeline, pursuing task-level, lower-complexity automation opportunities—including opportunities where the business case would not justify the cost associated with a standard development model.
It is not intended to save millions of dollars in one fell swoop, or to significantly increase labor capacity with each individual automation. However, it can increase automation awareness within the organization, and can help the organization achieve its broader enterprise automation objectives.
The expectation is also that automation tools will continue to evolve, making it increasingly easier for business users to adopt and incorporate automation into their daily activities, and thus scaling the impact at an enterprise level.
The building blocks for effective Citizen Development
A strong foundation is crucial to an effective and sustainable Citizen Developer program.
Building on this strong foundation, a key to success with Citizen Development is to start small, then grow. Proving the value and readiness of a Citizen Developer program in a small, controlled setting can be the first step to achieving the full benefits across the organization. As lessons are learned and the program scales up, the framework, guardrails, and model itself can then be refined.
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Citizen Development can be instrumental in driving the outlook of an organization towards the future of “humans with machines”.